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MILD WINTER MEANS NOT-SO-MILD PEST SEASON

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If you are like most of us, you have been delighting in the warmer than normal temperatures we have experienced this winter. While we have been spending more time outdoors and less on heating bills, there is an unwanted side effect to this unseasonable weather - more bugs!

With no hard freezes or extended cold snaps, the local pest population has not experienced the natural reduction that usually occurs in the winter. Additionally, many are now coming out of hibernation early to seek food and begin their reproduction process. All leading to an overall increase in the number of pests we expect to see this spring and summer.

Experts are predicting a banner year for the most notorious summer pest, the mosquito as well as fleas and ticks. The wet winter combined with warmer temperatures create the perfect breeding ground. Experts are also expecting an increase in the size and number of termite and ant colonies and even wasps and hornets as many more "future queens" will have survived the winter.

So what can you do to protect your family and home from the coming invasion? We have put together the following tips to help you combat pests this spring and summer:

• Eliminate all sources of moisture and standing water around the home.
• Seal all cracks, holes and other small openings around the foundation, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home.
• Keep indoor and outdoor trash receptacles clean and sealed.
• Screen all windows and doors.
• Keep tree branches and shrubs trimmed back and away from the house.
• Keep mulch at least 15 inches away from the home's foundation.

Most importantly, with larger populations all seeking food sources - many inside the home - a minor problem and can become a major infestation very quickly. If you suspect you have a problem with any of these pests, contact a licensed professional immediately.

We hope you find these tips useful and that you enjoy a pest-free spring and summer with your family.

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